Sunday, October 7, 2012

Reupholstering a Wing Back Chair

This is one of those moments when I desperately wished that I had a before picture. Instead, I have a bit of a story, and a whole lot of after.
When we began to discuss options for giving up a nook in our bedroom for Everett (more to come on that soon), one of the wants that we outlined for the space was a comfortable chair to rock Everett to sleep in. After many failed IKEA attempts, and not really willing to spend $500+ on something from Pier 1 or Sears, we went thrifting. Rather, Jackie did the thrifting will I was at work. She scoped out a few gems and sent pictures of them to my phone. Our number one priority was comfort and function, but something that wasn't too sore on the eyes was a bit necessary as well. My other priority- which I made pretty loud and clear, was that the chair would somehow have to be reupholstered. I'm not sure why, but I seriously get heebie-jeebies whenever I sit in a thrift store chair... like I have bugs and grease crawling all over my body. I guess you could file it under "snob", right along with my stubborn nature to only drink Starbucks coffee.
Anyways, of the three chairs that we checked out, the one we ended up purchasing stuck out the most because it was a wing back chair, and it was the most comfortable: score. However, it would also be the most difficult to reupholster: boo. I should've learned from recovering that Roman Shade, that I just am no good with fabric. So, for $40, we purchased a wing back chair that was brownish in color (I say "ish" because there really were many tones going on, and brown was the most recognizable), and had wood stained cabriole legs.
Similar to the Roman Shade, there was much debate over the choice of fabric that we would use to cover it. When we moved into our apartment, we purchased a small TULLSTA chair from IKEA, and Hazel really messed that chair up. It didn't clean easily, and the solid color of the fabric really showed off any stain. *yuck*. This taught us that the fabric needed to be super durable and easy to clean. We also didn't want to spend an arm and a leg on the fabric, as this chair could easily turn into a $100+ project, and that would defeat the purpose of buying something used. After many failed fabric store attempts, we remembered an old green fabric with lots of pattern on it, that we had purchased in bulk on a clearance table at IKEA, probably 5 years ago. Fortunately, we had more than enough fabric to get the job done.

And so, here is the final result:

WOW! So, how did we do it? Well, I'm only going to claim about 5% of this victory, and I'm going to attribute the rest to my amazing wife. Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let's take a moment to admire the radness of the fabric: Yes, it does showcase trees, purple cars, a heart, silhouettes of people, and even a cow.

Now, for the execution of the project. Prior to even picking up a sewing needle, I attempted to read up on some reupholstery tutorials. Most implied that the best way to perform a successful reupholstery, was to cut up the existing fabric and remove it from the furniture piece. Then, to cut the same size shapes from the fabric, and reattach. Simple, right? Well, just as quickly as I finished reading up on this information, Jackie pretty much had half of the chair done, without ever ripping a single piece of fabric off. How did she do it? Well, I'm still not entirely sure. She's kind of awesome that way. She just roughly measured, cut up the fabric, and sewed piece by piece to cover the entire surface area. It was pretty remarkable to witness. To attach the newly formed fabric slipcover, we used upholstery tacks that we purchased at a fabric store. We debated getting some chunky silver ones, and using them to border the edges of the arm rests, but decided to keep it simple with the plain black tacks. And with a few flicks of a hammer, the chair was crafted into a new life.


Oh, and as for my 5% of the contribution: I got to paint the legs! And I was more than honored to do it! It did take one coat of primer, two coats of Benjamin Moore's Swiss Coffee, and 2 coats of water-based high gloss Varathane to get the job done. But it certainly transformed those legs from a drab walnut stain to a chic and modern look.

And, yes, all of these pictures were taken in our living room, due to the fact that the chair really didn't last in the nursery nook for very long. Originally it fit nice and snug between the wall and Everett's bassinet. But, Everett didn't stay little for long, and we had to quickly upgrade him to a full-size crib, which meant that the chair had to go... into the living room!- which gave a great opportunity for us to ditch that nasty and generic TULLSTA, and replace it with something personalized and easy to clean.

So, there you have it: a long-winded explanation on how a chair came into our lives, with very little explanation as to how to reupholster a chair. My advice: marry someone brilliant- they'll figure out the rest.

1 comment:

  1. Hey!what an amazing chair! I love the little details with the arm rest. Ever thought about opening a business "we make the used,modern again"
    by the way the chair legs look great!